Demolition for old Richford Hotel remains in question

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The old Richford Hotel on the corner of Elm and Chestnut Streets in Downtown Rochester may be getting a facelift. But only if the new owners and developers are able to save it from demolition.

The hearing went over the condition of the building, what repairs are needed, and how to ensure any work that is done, is done safely.

The original Richford Hotel opened in 1915 and served guests until 1961. After that, it became an office building after that but has been vacant since the 1970s.

Now, Midtown Reborn LLC, through the development company Fortified, has plans to turn it in to a mix of apartments, retail, and office space.

But there are lots of problems with the property. It’s full of asbestos, the structural integrity is in question, and just last year, the siding was falling off onto the street below.

But the developers have been working with structural engineers to see if the historic building can withstand their $20 million plans. That’s why this demolition hearing was so important.

“The structure engineer, we took core samples in areas of the building that were questionable. We wanted to understand the integrity of the building, the integrity of the concrete. And we’ve done additional testing on the steel, the superstructure, to make sure, one, it’s not a public safety hazard. And two, how complex it might be to reconstruct as we look to perform on the project,” Developer Patrick Dutton said.

The decision won’t be made for a few weeks. I asked the developer what they’ll do if the City moves forward with demolition. He tells me that the project won’t happen.